Last week, on 27 March, three brothers were shot in Rammoun village during an “Israeli raid,” and then taken to a Jerusalem hospital. A few days later, one of the brothers, Rashad Shawakha, age 28, died of his wounds.
The event received little attention and the details of the so-called “raid” were not expounded.
But Al-Haq, a Palestinian human and legal rights organization, has released important findings from its own investigation into the incident. Most unsettling was the discovery that the brothers were shot by Israeli soldiers in disguise. The day after the shooting, an Israeli intelligence officer (also in civilian clothes) told one of the brothers that “there had been a mistake and that the incident would be investigated.”
Al-Haq’s report is chilling to read. The organization raises the possibility that the Israeli soldiers perpetrated perfidy by pretending to be civilians, which is a war crime under international humanitarian law.
According to the report, at 2:00 am on 27 March, the three Shawakha brothers—Awar, Akram and Rashad—approached two men in plainclothes who were loitering near their homes in the early hours of the day. Not recognizing the men as from the village, the brothers suspected they were thieves— Al-Haq notes that Rammoun has suffered from its sheep and cattle being stolen.
“Akram and Rashad left their houses first carrying a knife and a baton for self-defence and Anwar followed. By the time the two brothers reached them, the two men were standing only 20 meters from the Shawakha family homes. A quarrel took place and Akram asked about the purpose of their presence and for their ID cards, to which one of the men answered, that they work in Rammoun and that he had personally bought land in the village. Given that these two men turned out to be Israeli agents in disguise, this clearly amounts to perfidy, which includes the feigning of civilian status, and amounts to a war crime under international humanitarian law.
Rashad grabbed one of the men by the shoulder, who responded by taking out a gun and shooting Rashad in the thigh. He then shot Akram, who was two meters away, twice in the abdomen. The second man took out his gun and pointed it at Anwar’s face. Anwar, who was only ten meters away from the Israeli agent in disguise, moved his head but was shot in the neck and fainted; he recalls waking up with blood coming out from his mouth and neck.
An Israeli soldier asked him for his name and ID and Anwar could hear his two brothers screaming from pain nearby. Anwar lost consciousness again and only woke up in hospital.
While Akram was lying in pain on the ground, he saw Israeli masked soldiers surrounding the area. He told them that he was wounded and tried to reach for the lights of his garage but one of the soldiers shot him again in his abdomen and kicked him in the head. Akram then saw soldiers surrounding his brother Rashad and shooting him several times. It was later determined that Rashad had been shot seven times in his abdomen, hand and thigh.
Akram recalls that the soldiers put his brothers and him onto Israeli military ambulances and transferred them to a hospital in Jerusalem.”
The Israeli intelligence officer that visited Anwar the next day accused Rashad and Akram of trying to stab one of the soliders:
“Anwar replied that they thought they were talking to civilians and only brought the baton and knives for self-defense in case they were thieves. Anwar maintained that if the brothers knew that the men in civilian clothes were Israeli soldiers they would not have left their houses. The officer then told him that there had been a mistake and that the incident would be investigated.”
Violation of International law
According to a 1977 additional protocol to the Geneva Conventions:“It is prohibited to kill, injure or capture an adversary by resort to perfidy.”
International humantarian law specifically stipulates that “feigning of civilian or non-combatant status” is tantamount to perfidy.
Anwar’s statement makes it clear that the disguised soliders deceived the brothers into believing they were leaving their homes to scare off potential thieves, not confront the occupying army’s soldiers.